With Tax Day fast approaching, it might pay to take a few deep breaths, squeeze a stress ball, or do whatever else calms your nerves before hopping in a car and heading out on the road. Apparently the combination of people driving to mail out last minute returns and other drivers merely preoccupied with tax-related stress leads to an increase in the overall number of traffic deaths.
According to a recent report, traffic deaths are 6 percent more likely to occur on Tax Day than on any other day in the month of April. The study was based on 30 years of data, and although the 6 percent figure may seem fairly small, researchers estimate it could mean as much as $40 million in annual losses to society and an additional 13 deaths.
Although most of the theories for the Tax Day accident spike are purely speculative, a spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggested that one contributing factor may be the higher number of drivers taking routes they’re not familiar with. Since people tend to be safer drivers on roads they travel more frequently, stepping out of their comfort zone to drop off last minute returns at the post office could be partially to blame for the spike in accidents. However, since 75 percent of all tax returns are filed online, this theory seems unlikely.
The most likely scenario is simply that drivers are distracted. Even if it’s just letting the mind wander for a few seconds, failure to pay attention can be just as dangerous as more commonly cited forms of distracted driving. It’s not enough to have both eyes on the road if your mind is focused on something entirely different.
So, as you head out onto the road next Tuesday (yes, the official filing date has been pushed back this year) be careful out there. Driving on Tax Day might not be as dangerous as other major holidays, but it’s still an abnormally risky day to hit the streets.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/3446025121/